Light-driven polymeric bimorph actuators are being developed as alternatives to prior electrically and optically driven actuators in advanced, highly miniaturized devices and systems exemplified by microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), micro-electro-optical-mechanical systems (MEOMS), and sensor and actuator arrays in smart structures. These light-driven polymeric bimorph actuators are intended to satisfy a need for actuators that (1) in comparison with the prior actuators, are simpler and less power-hungry; (2) can be driven by low-power visible or mid-infrared light delivered through conventional optic fibers; and (3) are suitable for integration with optical sensors and multiple actuators of the same or different type. The immediate predecessors of the present light-driven polymeric bimorph actuators are bimorph actuators that exploit a photorestrictive effect in lead lanthanum zirconate titanate (PLZT) ceramics. The disadvantages of the PLZT-based actuators are that (1) it is difficult to shape the PLZT ceramics, which are hard and brittle; (2) for actuation, it is necessary to use ultraviolet light (wavelengths < 380 nm), which must be generated by use of high-power, high-pressure arc lamps or lasers; (3) it is difficult to deliver sufficient ultraviolet light through conventional optical fibers because of significant losses in the fibers; (4) the response times of the PLZT actuators are of the order of several seconds unacceptably long for typical applications; and (5) the maximum mechanical displacements of the PLZT-based actuators are limited to those characterized by low strains beyond which PLZT ceramics disintegrate because of their brittleness. The basic element of a light-driven bimorph actuator of the present developmental type is a cantilever beam comprising two layers, at least one of which is a polymer that exhibits a photomechanical effect (see figure). The dominant mechanism of the photomechanical effect is a photothermal one: absorption of light energy causes heating, which, in turn, causes thermal expansion.